Sunday, May 8, 2011

Enough with the Averages!

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Like usual, another article about student loan debt mentions the average amount of debt that grads will have in 2011. We need to get away from this number, because it is not a good indicator of the student loan debt crisis. Moreover, the article argues - falsely - that student loan debt still equals good debt. If the current administration truly believes that education is important, priorities need to shift about the way in which it's financed. We also should think about the wars abroad, and how that is draining money that could be used to finance education, infrastructure projects, etc., etc. Like others, I believe that higher education should be free. But I realize that's just crazy talk.


Anonymous said...

I agree, ideally, that it should be free, but i also know there are countries (NZ for instance, where it used to be free and eventually they had to start charging)...but in no way should it cost significantly more than the poverty level for an average person for a should be 5-10% maybe. Right now the average cost of one year's education at a private institution is more than I've ever made working full time. And at a public institution it is about the same or a little more than I have made on unemployment benefits. Good article, policymakers need to take a real look at their numbers.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

Robert Reich asserts that higher education should be free, at least for those who are impoverished, and I think he goes even further than that (I just read Aftershock by him, and he provides a good solution to the higher education financing problem). In this article about his book, it states: "Reich said he believes a public school higher education should be free in the U.S. and that more money needs to be spent on early education. It all goes back to the distribution of wealth, he noted."

Here's the piece:

We're technically the richest country in the world, and yet most of our students are drowning in student loan debt? That's absurd. Our enrollment at these institutions has gone down, and only 30% of the nation has a degree from a university or college. I agree with the President, that that is a serious problem, but we need to ask ourselves honestly: can we continue to justify the way in which this system is financed? is it really fair to place the burden of financing higher education on the backs of students and their families? what about those who are unable to pay off their debt now, and can't have families, buy homes, etc., etc.? how is it right that higher education is now part of the market? We are talking about the public GOOD, and that is what has been forgotten. It's been replaced with this push to privatize and corporatize public spaces - we're in dangerous waters. Thank God there are a few sane people out there - like Reich - who understand these dangers and are talking about them.